This is a piece of advice that I wish someone said to me when I started writing Oblivious. When I wrote the first several hundred words, I did not tell anyone and wanted to keep it to myself until I could see the end because I was worried that I would let myself down. The truth is you should tell people what you are writing and a little insight into the story. When you tell someone, judge their reaction and take all their comments on board. If they are not a reader, don’t dismiss their words because anything could trigger your thought process.
If someone who you tell about you tell about your work seems genuinely interested, why not ask them if they would like to read some before it’s finished. The worst answer they would give you is ‘no’ and you should be able to find someone else who will read it instead.
When you have written a few chapters, give someone the first one to read whilst you are there. It is important that you give them a paper copy which they can make notes on as they can quickly make marks for bits they liked and other the bits they didn’t. Asking someone to read your book before you’ve finished is a good idea because if you decide to change something based on someone’s feedback it is easier to change three of four chapters rather than rewriting seventy thousand words.
Never change your story based on another person’s view. Remember, this story belongs to you and should not be changed to the vision of someone else. You are welcome to take the feedback and change your story telling technique based on comments, but the end goal and path to get there should be your own. Another part of never being afraid to ask is never being afraid of the answer. You may need thick skin to prepare yourself for the comments, but you should respect anything you are told.
Before you decide to submit a final copy of your work either to a publisher, editor or if you self-publishing straight to print, give the entire book to a friend or family member that you know can pick out any obvious spelling or grammatical errors. If they pick out a few mistakes across the entire book or ten errors per page, this is because they are helping you and especially if they are doing it for free you need to appreciate the help and time they have given. Don’t be angry at anyone who gives you negative criticism, take it on the chin and move on. Either go back and review what you have done or learn from your mistakes going forward.
As well as asking friends and family, you can always ask people in the business, whether that be authors, editors, publishers or even booksellers. Social media is a great place to start and there is no harm with finding popular groups or forums that have dedicated pages for this kind of thing. Many authors would have been in your shoes and one point or another and didn’t know where to start and they probably wished they had access to the resources you have.
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